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Japan’s New Girl Band Has an Average Age of 84

KBG84 is a one-of-a-kind girl band in Japan consisting of 33 singing and dancing grannies, with an average age of 84. The oldest member, Haru Yamashiro, is 97 years old!

The new band, based in the remote island of Kohama in Okinawa, is a huge hit in the country – so much so that the members are rather taken aback by their success. Their first single – titled Come on and Dance, Kohama Island – has made it to the top of the  charts, and they’ve just completed a sellout tour of Japan.

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“When I first heard someone calling us ‘idols’ I thought an idol meant someone who has lived a long life and was at the gates of heaven,” said 92-year-old diva Tomi Menaka. “But in Tokyo they told me it was an entertainer – which was a relief because I thought it meant I was on my way to heaven.”

“We felt like stars in Tokyo,” added 86-year-old Hideko Kedamori. “Everyone in the audience had a big smile, which gave us the energy to sing our hearts out. We’re blessed to have been born in Kohama. Our lyrics are about the island and nature – whales in the sea spouting or dolphins doing somersaults.”

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Irrespective of the lyrics, these elderly women are incredibly cute when they perform. Their energy and enthusiasm is amazing, considering their age. In fact, no one under the age of 80 is allowed into the band. The name KBG84 itself is a play on the Japanese idol girl group AKB48. While ‘48’ refers to the number of members in the teeny bopper band, ‘84’ refers to the average age of the women in the grannies’ band. 

It turns out that the geriatric pop queens are blessed with incredible genes – Okinawan islanders have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Their diet chiefly consists of vegetables and local purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, with practically no added sugar. Menaka said she isn’t fussy about her diet, but she does keep fit by doing housework.

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“I look after my health by cleaning my home, wiping the floors, steaming rice,” she said. “I stay in the shade when it’s too hot. I don’t want to tan. I have to take care of my skin – I’m still young at heart!”

But the grannies’ bodies don’t always keep up with their seemingly tireless energy – and that’s why, backstage, you’ll find walking frames blocking entrances, blood pressure monitors strewn across tables, and defibrillators always on stand by.

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KBG84 is the brainchild of Japanese musician Kikuo Tsuchida, who has lived in Kohama for 20 years. The band recently signed a record deal, and performs to full houses, mainly consisting of middle-aged or older audiences. The exuberant seniors are constantly followed around by camera crews, but despite their celebrity status, they do make time for ordinary things like enjoying chats over cups of tea.

“We still like to sit around gossipping about life,” said Kedamori. “If we fight, we quickly make up again, just like when we were kids. We are all together with the same heart. All for one and one for all.”

via The Guardian

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